Judge: Iowa Hiring Policies Did Not Hurt Blacks

David Pitt and Ryan J. Foley, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 17, 2012

Iowa’s state government employment policies have not discriminated against black employees and job applicants, a judge ruled Tuesday in a case closely watched by civil rights activists.

District Judge Robert Blink issued the ruling after overseeing a trial last fall in the class action lawsuit affecting up to 6,000 applicants who were passed over for jobs and promotions dating back to 2003. He rejected attempts to require Iowa to pay tens of millions in lost wages or change its hiring policies to track and eliminate disparities.

Experts have called the case the largest class-action lawsuit of its kind against a state government’s civil service system, and it tested a legal theory that social science and statistics alone can prove widespread discrimination.

Blink resoundingly rejected what he called an unprecedented claim, saying the evidence did not support the idea that subtle biases were allowed to creep into the hiring process and discriminate against blacks.


In his 56-page ruling, Blink said he was aware of the heavy stakes in the case, including whether blacks were being treated fairly by the state’s largest employer and the potential for millions of dollars in consequences for taxpayers and plaintiffs.

But he said lawyers for the plaintiffs, who urged him to consider the state’s progressive history on civil rights, were asking him to “circumvent clear and timely” U.S. Supreme Court precedent, which would not allow the lawsuit. He said their case failed to challenge a particular employment practice that was discriminatory, an element required under state and federal civil rights laws.

{snip} While some departments may have disparities, he said the data showed that blacks had an advantage compared to whites in others and that the number of black managers had increased over time compared to whites.

Blacks also fare better when applying for public employment in Iowa than the private sector, he said, which could prove that the state’s merit-based system was working to reduce discrimination.


Unlike many other discrimination lawsuits, the plaintiffs did not argue that they faced overt racism or a discriminatory hiring test in Iowa, which is 91 percent white. Instead, their lawyers claimed implicit bias in which managers throughout state government subconsciously favored whites and hurt blacks through their decisions about who got interviewed, hired and promoted. {snip}


Blacks represented 2.9 percent of the state’s population in 2010 and 2.4 percent of the state workforce despite applying for state jobs more often, statistics show.

Lawyers working under Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, had asked Blink to dismiss the case. They called the scope of the lawsuit—it questioned every hiring and promotion decision made at 37 state agencies, involving 20,000 jobs and 500,000 applications—unprecedented. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office had no immediate comment.

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  • WmarkW

    Anti-discrimination laws are a necessary part of implementing the principle that all citizens are equal before the law in a modern republic.  The plaintiffs were suggesting that hiring the best candidates created a disparate impact among the less qualified.   I’m glad this court didn’t go down the silly path others have, about tests biased in favor of the smart.

  • Blacks represented 2.9 percent of the state’s population in 2010 and 2.4
    percent of the state workforce despite applying for state jobs more
    often, statistics show.

    Iowa is probably the only state in the union that has an enforces standards for its public bureaucracy.  Any other state that’s 2.9% black would have a state employee work force that is about 50% black.

    • white_privilege_stigmata

      Judge: Iowa Hiring Policies Did Hurt Blacks, Mexicans, and Muslims; Orders Remedial Programs and Back Pay

  • haroldcrews

    Blacks are not the least interested in judging based on merits or the ‘content of their character’.  They want discrimination against non-blacks especially whites in favour of themselves.

  • Rocky Bass

    Aren’t tests SUPPOSED to DISCRIMINATE against the unqualified and the stupid?

    • white_privilege_stigmata

      That’s raciss.



      Why didn’t you just admit that tests are SUPPOSED to
      perpetuate systemic bias, institutional racism, and social inequality by
      enforcing outdated White privilege standards?

      • The__Bobster

        I first thought you were being sarcastic. Now I realize you’re just a libtard troll.

        Get out from under our bridge and begone!

    • Detroit_WASP

      Rocky,  Yep but then blacks claim the test is racist, designed by whites for whites and only whites can understand the questions.   For example:

      “Who was the first President of the United States?” 

      How on earth is person of color supposed to know that????

      Any questions involving math or logic are also racist.

    • neanderthalDNA

      In all my years of teaching I found a few kids who had legit test anxiety.  A few.

      By and large, however, people who “don’t do well on tests” don’t do well for a very OBVIOUS reason – and it ain’t test anxiety…

  • I’m so happy that the courts struck that garbage lawsuit down.


  • The__Bobster

    And the much-vaunted black middle class would essentially disappear.

    • neanderthalDNA

      Yeah – NO KIDDING.  Makes it all the more infuriating to think how much this racial jizya is opportunity costing our people.  Infuriating.

      In terms of the stupid whites who Tim Wise themselves and our people…reminds me of a story.

      A very compassionate man was walking home behind a fish cart when it hit a bump and a very large fish fell out.  The very compassionate man saw it gasping for air, still barely alive, and picked it up, flung it into a nearby fish pond, went home very self satisfied by his compassion.

      Later, however, the big fish ate all the little fish in the little pond and died of starvation itself.  Anf the poor peasant had no more fish pond.

      Compassion devoid of wisdom is a very destructive force.